Monday, Feb. 14, 2011
Posted 2:58 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
Troy Brouwer was making a pest of himself in front of Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov on Saturday night. Down 2-0 at the time, the Blackhawks needed equalizers and a presence there.
Brouwer supplied both, getting the Blackhawks first power-play goal and providing the perfect screen for Duncan Keiths tying one.
Screener, deflector, target, whatever the label, Brouwer has been effective when hes been a net presence. And the Blackhawks will need that nuisance factor during this stretch run where every goal, every point, every game is so critical.
Hes a target that we know is going to be in front of the net and hopefully we dont hit him and we hit the mesh, defenseman Brian Campbell said. He causes traffic down low and finds an open area. Thats what good goal-scorers do and he can do that in a lot of ways. Hes just great at deflecting pucks and works hard.
Brouwer has 16 goals this season, six shy of his career-high of 22 last season, and a good chunk of those have come from right in front. Brouwer said the net work comes from a message he got as a kid.
I had a coach when I was younger who said, if you dont play in front of the net, youre not going to play. Since a young age Ive always been one of the bigger guys, Brouwer said. Its just a job you get accustomed to.
And its a job thats reaped he and the Blackhawks rewards when its been there. Coach Joel Quenneville said it is imperative it continues, especially on the advantage.
I thought (Brouwers) positioning was great (on Saturday). That was the reason why we scored the tying goal was his presence in front of the net, he said. Whether its him or (Tomas Kopecky), its the difference in how effective we are on the power play.
The Blackhawks have 26 games remaining to make waves and get back into the Wests top eight. And the critical label has been slapped on every one of these games.
We really havent given ourselves any room for anything right now. We have to win and we have to win in a good amount here, Brouwer said. If we dont put together a couple of wins here, its going to be almost impossible for us to get back into the playoffs.
READ: Former Hawk Versteeg traded to Philly
The Blackhawks need to be especially diligent at home, where theyll play their next three games. But right now, winning anywhere would be good.
Its critical to win as many games as possible, whether home on the road, Campbell said. We probably need a near-perfect home schedule. Theres no time to have any lapses at this point. We have to come out strong.
Marian Hossa said hes feeling better after suffering the flu during the Blackhawks victory over Edmonton on Wednesday.
It wasnt fun, said Hossa. I threw up through the second and third periods. I had two days rest (before playing in Phoenix) and they gave me an IV and the next day I felt pretty good. Im feeling much better.
Patrick Kane and Jake Dowell were out with the flu and defenseman Duncan Keith took a maintenance day on Monday. Quenneville expects all three of them to be back for Tuesdays practice.
Fernando Pisani (upper body) is still day to day and Ryan Johnson (upper body) is on injured reserve.
Dave Bolland centered a line with Michael Frolik and Marian Hossa on Monday. Quenneville said theyll give that line a try on Wednesday night against the Minnesota Wild.
Theyll get quality ice time and were going to need that line to be effective for us, said Quenneville. Hopefully that line can have the puck a little bit more. I thought the last game (Hossa) played he did have the puck a lot more and was more of a factor.
Frolik, who was acquired on Wednesday from Florida, was working with assistant coach Mike Kitchen long after his Blackhawks teammates were done on Monday.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.